Identifying signs and symptom of resistance to change is the first step to overcome resistance. But the problem with resistance is that it is difficult to detect.

Because the signs of resistance to change are not straightforward. Sometime these signs are clear and overt but many a times these are hidden and covert.  If change leaders are able to catch these signs early, then it is more likely that they will manage resistance before it takes strong hold. 

Identifying signs or symptoms of resistance to change does not explain why people are resisting change. Change leaders must know the difference between the symptoms and reasons and not to confuse one with the other. 

Based on the available research and experience of practitioners there are 08 common signs when employees resist change. 

Let’s check out each of these. 

1. No Interest in Change

The first sign of resistance to change is that employees start avoiding new assignments. They remain indifferent to change and show no interest in new assignments. Change may bring opportunities of growth for employees. But this happen only when employees  happily embrace change and accept new roles and explore new opportunities. But if they resist change, they show least interest in change as they don’t want to leave their comfort zone. They only see the down side of change. 

2. Absenteeism 

A very common sign of resistance is that employees start coming late or remain absent from office. Usually, employees arrive on time at work and they are punctual and regular. But the moment organizational change is started to happen and employees are reluctant to embrace change then they start avoiding the situation. They start taking off days and also want to leave early. This absenteeism is a clear sign that employees are not comfortable with change. Therefore, change leaders should notice the pattern of arrival and departure time of employees to detect the resistance to change. 

3. Job Transfers 

Majority of employees consider organizational change as a threat. They are afraid of losing jobs and existing status in organization. In order to secure their job or position they start making requests for transferring their jobs.  A few requests of job transfer set a trend and everyone who are resistance to change start requesting for such requests. When it becomes a trend then change leaders must detect that it is actual a sign of resistance to change instead of natural preference of employee. 

4. Low Productivity 

The strongest sign of resistance to change is low productivity.  When employees don’t feel motivated about taking up new working methods or roles and responsibilities then they’ll be less productive at work. They very often miss deadlines and take longer than usual time to complete tasks at hand. All of these are strong signs of resistance to change that must be taken care of by change leaders in order to implement change successfully. 

5. Gossip 

Gossip is a natural reaction to expressing dissatisfaction over change. When there is resentment in air, gossiping is increased among employees. Many a times they lack any proper forum or channel to share their thoughts on change. In this case they usually share their feeling among each other.  Change leaders must take notice of this situation and they must initiate open and candid discussion on concerns of employees before allowing gossip to further worsen the situation. 

6. Communication Gap

Poor communication is also a sign of resistance to change. When employees resist change, they are no longer responsive to emails and sharing information. They are least interested in what are being communicated in meetings or other formal channels of commination. They start to misinterpret messages given by leaders and ignore directions given to them. So, this communication gap is a clear sign of resistance to change which need to be taken care for successful change management. 

7. Low Energy 

When employees are reluctant to accept change, they show low morale and energy. They become more lethargic and less motivated to take on challenges of new working ways. This low energy is very contagious and it spreads in other team members. And result is low productivity and ultimately failure of change initiative. Therefore, change leaders must be keep any eye on energy level and morale of his/her team members.  

8. Delayed Decision Making 

Unnecessary delay in decision making is also a sing of resistance to change. Employees begin to take longer time to make day-to-day decisions related to their work. This shows that their thought process is badly affected by change and they are not comfortable with new working ways. They may be covertly resisting change which hamper them to take quick decisions. 

Take Home Points 

  • Detecting signs of resistance to change is crucial to overcome resistance. 
  • There are 08 common signs when employees are resistance to change. 
  • Employees show no interest to change when they start resisting change. 
  • Absenteeism is on rise when employees resist change. 
  • Out of fear of losing jobs, they start making requests for job transfers. 
  • Lower productivity is also strong indication of resistance. 
  • Increased gossip is a natural sign of resistance to change. 
  • Communication gap is widened among employees. 
  • Employees have low energy level and morale when they resist change. 
  • There are unnecessary delays in decision making process.